Monday, July 25, 2011

Questions to which the answer is 'either stop asking me these questions or the kitten gets it'

Many thanks to Cynical Highlander on the previous thread for alerting me to yet another in Labour Hame's ground-breaking series of 'impossible' questions for nationalists...

"There is a general consensus among nationalists and Unionists alike that Scotland is more than capable of governing itself, if it so chose."

I believe that's known as an assertion to which the premise, wrong. Although there's certainly such a consensus among nationalists, so maybe we could generously call it half-right at a pinch. In case anyone really is suffering from the delusion that most unionists accept that Scotland is able to stand on its own two feet, you might want to reacquaint yourself with a typical piece of comedy from David "Let's Make a Positive Case for the Union" Cameron. Oh, how we laughed.

Moving on...

"But just because you can do something, does that mean you should do it?"

Absolutely not. We could abolish Tuesdays, but we shouldn't. We could force asylum seekers to carry out a cull of badgers, but we shouldn't. We could make George Foulkes the next Secretary-General of the UN, but we shouldn't. The list of things that could be done, but that we nationalists don't want to do, is quite literally endless. So please set your minds at rest on that one, guys.

"California has one of the largest economies in the world. It has its own unique culture – as different to American culture in some other parts of the United States as the culture in some parts of Scotland are from some parts of England (and some parts of Scotland, for that matter).

And, like Scotland, California tends to vote (at least in national elections) rather differently from the rest of the country – consistently for the Democrat presidential nominee. It was once (albeit briefly) an independent republic and has been a member of the Union for half the time Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom."

For "albeit briefly", read 26 days. Yes, that's right, California was an independent republic from June 14th to July 9th, 1846. By contrast, the united and independent kingdom of Scotland was (with a few minor interruptions) in existence from the year 843 until 1707 - that's a grand total of 864 years. Still, 26 days...864 years...these are pretty similar numbers, right?

As for being a "member of the Union" for less time than Scotland has been part of the UK, it would be a touch difficult for that not to be the case, given that California wasn't even colonised until the late 18th Century - and even that was only a very half-hearted colonisation effort by the Spanish.

Anyway, this was all just a mere preamble to the main question, which this time is really two questions. Drumroll, please...

"Should California secede from the Union...?"

Answer : Yes, if it wants to. But not if it doesn't.

"...and are those Californians who wish to remain American guilty of being “anti-Californian”?"

Answer : No, although I think we can safely assume that anyone who ever dared to suggest that Californians have a right to self-determination on the subject would probably be considered "anti-American". It's rather easy to qualify as an anti-American, I've discovered - you might remember that it transpired I was one myself (a neat trick given that I'm a US citizen) after I suggested that massacring countless thousands of Japanese men, women and children with nuclear weapons in 1945 may not, on balance, have been the most humane act in history.

So, once again, fairly straightforward questions to answer, although as usual they give rise to a number of intriguing questions that our Labour friends might care to answer themselves. For example -

1) Was the person who devised this question Alex Gallagher, a friend of Alex Gallagher, or someone who has been reading a little too much Alex Gallagher?

2) Why do you seemingly consider it impermissible for Scots to believe in independence without first turning into Little Hitlers and telling Californians, Bavarians and citizens of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast that they have to change their constitutional status against their will?

3) If the status quo in California is such a splendid model for Scotland to emulate, could we please have Californian-style powers for the Scottish Parliament now? If not, why not?

I'll even be extra-generous this time and give it a full eight minutes before I declare these questions UNANSWERED.


  1. California, in the northern part of what was then Mexico, was populated by huge numbers from the United States who wished to unite with the mother country. Similarly with Texas - the "Lone Star Republic"' was "independent" between 1836 and 1845 only because allowing the accession of a slave state to the union in those years was too problematic for a succession of Congresses. The states of the USA are not and never have been independent countries, and have never expressed any desire to be such, though their current constitutional arrangements vis-a-vis central government are far superior to Scotland's.

    But again, a look over at the comments following Tom Harris' latest ramble illustrate the complete one-sidedness in understanding the key issues when it comes to "discussion" between these particular unionists and the nationalist contributors to that site.

  2. What a ridiculous thing to do to use American history to attempt to illustrate their pathetic point. I’m wondering if “admin” who I assume is the redoubtable Mr Harris himself knows the first thing about US history. You have mentioned California’s brief dalliance with independence and I saw that someone has already mentioned, on there, Texas. I took the liberty of adding the Virginia/West Virginia experience And, as I suspect the comment will not feature on Mr H’s post I will take the liberty, if I may, of repeating it here verbatim:

    “American history is so rich and colourful don’t you think? For example the north-west counties of the state of Virginia, seceded from that state in 1861 by repealing Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession from the Union. The Federal Government recognised the breakaway western counties as the real state of Virginia, while the Confederate Government recognised the remaining eastern ones, similarly as the state of Virginia. In 1863 the Federal Government admitted the counties as the separate state of West Virginia and it’s been that ever since. Were the people of Virginia anti-American to leave the Union? And if not where the people of West Virginia anti-Virginian for rejoining it. The point is in this case the majority wanted to leave the Union while the minority did not. The majority being a majority got their way but the minority asserted its right to independence and left Virginia to rejoin the Union.”

  3. The question, "Should California secede from the Union, and are those Californians who wish to remain American guilty of being anti-Californian"?, shows more about the Labour view of Scotland than they might like.

    California is a US State which was originally territory taken by force by the US from Mexico who had taken it from the indians and has never had any ambitions to be a country. The California Republic was thirty originally US settlers taking over the small Mexican garrison in Sonoma in 1846 until the US army showed up.

    The Labour view is that Scotland which was one of the two independent countries which formed the UK is equivalent to a US state. In other words Scotland has no history or identity beyond that of a British or more properly an Anglo-British region. This isn't a new view. Devolution as originally proposed by Labour had Scotland simply as one of many devolved regions in Britain. The original devolution plan had England split into regions of about the same size as Scotland under devolved governments. Devolution was based on a plan to create another tier of local government in Britain not on the recognition of Scotland as a nation.

    This Labour view of Scotland as a British region not as a founding country of the UK is reflected not just in their attitude to Scotland but in the structure of the party itself. Labour has a Scottish region but it has no more power or authority within the party than any of the other Labour regions across Britain. Labour is British to the core of the party.

    If you understand this about Labour then you understand that for Labour the idea of ScotRegion leaving the UK is as absurd as California leaving the US. Hence the question.

  4. This is not exactly newsworthy though, is it? Dog bites Man stuff. If it's not a lack of thought as here - Wikipedia's "Secession in the United States" might have been useful reading when trying to pick a US state to use in the non-question - it's great plans for this or that which seem to assume the existence a money tree at the bottom of the garden.

    I was more interested to see that Pete Wishart's piece on Better Nation got a mention from STV today. We learn that "Labour leader Iain Gray said Mr Wishart`s comments were "bizarre"." Well, he would, wouldn't he?

  5. There seems to be a worrying (positive) correlation between the increasing absurdity of the questions that are asked on Labour Shame and the degree of difficulty that the party is in. Indeed, reading between the lines of the anti-nationalist rants, or if you prefer, the pro-British nationalist rants on Labour Shame it seems that we are witnessing the demise of a party that not only is unsure about what it’s for but seems to be increasingly unsure about what it is against. Perhaps Labour Shame could settle the matter once and for all by putting their inconsiderable weight behind a proposal that ‘Scottish’ Labour should rename itself ‘ABIGAIL’S Party’ – that is, Anything But Independence Goes As long as it Isn’t Led by Salmond or, if it must, Scottish ABIGAIL’S party.

    Of all the absurd questions that Labour Shame asks, every nationalist will have their personal favourite, depending on their toleration threshold and just where they would locate each question on the spectrum of absurdity. But every time these questions are asked, you’re left wondering, is this really the best they can do? Surely they must have something else up their sleeve, some killer argument that will do for nationalism what Lord George Robertson hoped devolution itself would achieve?

    My own personal favourite is still the first one. I like it so much, I’m going to repeat it here:

    The SNP mantra is that Scotland should control all its domestic affairs. Given that the EU already makes up 50 per cent of all member states’ law why don’t the SNP support withdrawal from the EU as well as withdrawal from the UK?

    You can just imagine the collective opprobrium heaped on the SNP from Tom Harris and his tory chums at Labour Shame if the SNP did advocate withdrawal from the EU, why, it would confirm all their prejudices about the narrow, parochial, isolationist nats. A bit like if Alex Samond was to advocate the Scottish equivalent of the Gordon Brown/BNP mantra, ‘British jobs for British workers’. But it’s the lack of self-awareness (a charitable view would be that this is wilful on their part) that provides so much of the entertainment. For suppose we tweak this question a little, along the lines of say:

    The Labour mantra is stronger together weaker apart. Given that the Tories jealously protect the parliamentary sovereignty of Westminster, the independence of sterling, their right to set their own fiscal and monetary policy, to protect their own borders etc, why isn’t Labour campaigning vigorously for closer British political and economic integration with the EU, including removing more powers from Westminster, joining the euro, tax harmonisation, giving the EU/Frontex complete authority over British border control and so on?

    A question that can yield only one answer...Er.